Monday, October 28, 2013

Waxing philosophical

Talking with my daughter about a school assignment today (writing fortunes for fortune cookies, if you must know) led me to this John Donne poem.  I knew the beginning and the end.  The middle expresses how I feel about property loss from natural disasters.  Whether or not there's ultimately insurance coverage for a building that has been damaged or destroyed by a hurricane, a family losing its home has repercussions throughout  the fabric of our society. 

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.       

Along the same lines, the Boston Herald has this article about the effect of FEMA's new flood zone maps on flood insurance in Boston.  I've posted before about the intersection of liability insurance and taxes.  Given that higher flood risks are likely related to climate change, a result of the workings of our society as a whole (see above)  and out of the individual control of longtime homeowners of property near major bodies of water, it seems only right that moderate-income families who can't afford higher insurance rates should receive subsidies.  Assuming that the new maps accurately show the risk, as someone who is adamantly pro-insurance, I do support requiring homeowners in flood zones to have flood insurance; moreover, as I discussed here, I support flood insurance on the value of the entire property, not merely to the extent of the mortgagee's interest as the current regulations require.  It's a fair way to spread the risk and will prevent the even worse economic devastation that would occur if entire neighborhoods are damaged by a hurricane and the homeowners are uninsured.  It can be the difference between a few awful weeks or months and long-term homelessness. 

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